Protecting Your Interests
Real Cases with Real Results
Interested in former case results, or how we have helped others in real-life scenarios? Read through our case studies that we have gathered for you!
Real Estate Litigation, Pool Construction
One client was terminally ill with a daughter who was handicapped. The daughter’s only form of recreation was floating in a pool, and so my client decided to spend her annual bonus on building an above ground pool complete with fencing, deck and the necessary equipment. She found me from references of previous clients.
When she contacted me, she had hired a pool construction company who did not finish the work. In fact, the workman destroyed the backyard fence, destroyed the sprinkler system, did not properly complete the pool decking and the pump did not function and was improperly installed blowing out the electrical circuit breaker. She was beside herself.
My first job is to assure my clients that they are being listened to, I wanted her to vent her frustration and anger that not only was her money taken and the work not completed, but her daughter spent a whole summer awaiting a pool that never came. We were going to sue for breach of contract and other deceptive trade practices and then use that money to find another contractor. This contractor did not wish to be found. Once we investigated, he used his father’s company’s previous great reputation as a pool company to fund his lifestyle by taking contracts and then not completing them. We had to hire investigators to find the contractor, and we also found that the father was still the owner of the company. Additionally, we found that the addresses used by the contractor to hide his equipment, because he knew others were looking for were owned by his brother in another county.
We filed a lawsuit naming the company, the brother, the contractor, and the father. No one appeared for trial so we received a default judgment and went to abstract the judgment to begin to collect the monies owed our client. As it turns out, the brother was trying to sell properties and our judgments prevented this. He paid the monies owed in full.
We had a happy client. She has contacted us for any other law issues she may be facing. While we cannot provide our legal services for all of them, we still keep in contact.
This example illustrates how Sprigg-Novak Law fights for its clients, we are compassionate to feel with you your loss, but tenacious in tracking down and obtaining monetary relief from those who pry on people just wanting a service.
Landlord Tenant Case
A father of a previous landlord/tenant client called me and he worked for an out-of-state law firm that need a firm to handle large apartment complexes forcible detainers (evictions). The issue was that the current staff was continually losing at the Justice of the Peace Court for some infraction of the Texas Property Code, and worse the myriad of non-eviction ordinances that the City of Dallas passed which are now in violation of Texas Law. We needed to not only handle the hearing processes, but we need to set up a system that the property management staff could follow for later evictions.
We set up a training session with the staff. We showed under what Federal, Dallas City, and Texas law ordinances had to be followed in great detail. We demonstrated where Notices needed to be placed or sent to Tenants, we trained them in how the ledgers must only show back rent due and not late fees when submitted to the Court, and we walked them through how to handle when a tenant abandons the apartment and never gives a forwarding address.
We prepared for 15 hearings. After the word spread in their apartment community that we were handling the evictions, and our success rate in the first few, several of the non-paying rentals left the apartment. Those who stayed were successfully evicted and had judgments for the non-paid rent against them.
This case illustrated that Sprigg Novak Law can handle large apartment complexes’ forcible detainers, we were 100% successful in removing non-paying tenants so that the Landlord could rent out to new paying tenants and stop the bleed from tenants who never intend to pay their rent.
Landlord Utility Arrears
This case came to us from an attorney referral. This was a large apartment complex that experienced several large critical capital plant failures (boiler, and central a/c) in the same month adding up to over two hundred and fifty thousand of repairs costs. The rentals received that month could not cover all the normal operating and capital expenses and the water and natural gas bills went unpaid for several months. The bill was enormous due to the size of the 400-unit complex, and the apartment complex was being threatened with shut-off notices.
The owner needed assistance from a firm that could negotiate a settlement with the City of Dallas and the Utility company attorneys. Our firm contacted both and began a dialog where we showed the apartment complex’s finances and its ability to become current within a specific period of time. Negotiations where your party may not be in the right require that the attorney be able to think and offer positions that are beneficial to the damaged party. This is not the time for grandstanding, but needs a mature professional who can act humbly, yet effectively in reaching a settlement.
Through a period of months, and our coaching of the apartment complex to maintain its monthly invoices current, we worked with other financial institutions to obtain financing for the complex so that we could present an acceptable pay-off offer.
The Sprigg-Novak Law firm is a law firm that works in the clutch, or that seemingly impossible situations where a cool head and calm voice coupled with excellent legal knowledge solves the client’s problem. We litigate where necessary, but our goal is always what is best for the client, and not make a bad situation worse by threats of court or other drama. Through our assistance, our client was able to maintain its good standing with the utility companies and averted a situation that would throw him into business failure.
Landlord Building Repair Issue
We value our long-term clients. In this matter, a client who had been with us for years called on a Thursday afternoon with a crisis. This is never something any attorney wishes to receive, but Sprigg-Novak Law, with years of dealing with all forms of law issues, realizes that sometimes the best-laid plans go splat, and we are ready and willing to help intervene.
In this matter, the client was a large commercial building property owner. It had been dealing with an elevator repair company that either would not or could not fix an older elevator in an 8-story building. Due to the elevator not working, several events that were being hosted on the top balcony of the building had to walk up and down 9 flights of stairs. This became more problematic as several events were formal weddings, and the men in tuxes and ladies in gowns had to traverse up the stairs, and then perhaps in less than sober condition, find their way down after the event.
What caused this matter to hit the crisis level is that a large party for several important political and business members was about to be that Saturday, and again, no fixed elevator. The client had a repair to replace the contract with the elevator company. Calls went unanswered. We took the matter and drafted a scathing letter indicating exactly how their financial condition was going to be for the worse unless they brought their best technician to the building and got the elevator to working condition. The elevator company, wisely, decided that to avert the onslaught of pending litigation, they would fulfill their contractual obligations to our client and fix, if only temporarily, the elevator for the Saturday event. The client’s reputation was saved and they have continued to award us with all their real estate litigation needs.
Sprigg-Novak Law firm helped a client in a crisis. Sometimes, deficit actions on the part of contractors require direct intervention. Here we were already drafting the pleadings and injunctions against the contractor when the letter was hand-delivered to them. We are not a firm that makes ideal threats, we were fully ready to engage the tools of our trade and hoist the non-compliant contractor before the Court. While such situations are rare, it is important to have a firm that has the wood behind the arrow in the Courtroom, and Sprigg-Novak will not fail to support its clients in their moment of need.
Landlord Tenant Case Study: When They Won't Leave
We had a client approach us from another attorney referral. This client owned and was the landlord of a beautiful home in suburban North Dallas. He had a problem with two tenants who stayed beyond their lease, stopped paying, and simply would not leave. He initially did not wish to go to court because previously he had such a great relationship with the two tenants, a man and a woman.
This occurred during the time of Covid-19. Mentioning the period is important because of what will happen later. So, we plead for a forcible detainer, held a video conference court hearing, and won the judgment against these clients and several thousand in rent owed but not paid to our client.
Typically, what occurs is that either a stubborn tenant will either appeal to gain their time, or just leave. In this case, the tenants did neither, and therefore forced us to file for a Writ of Possession whereby the Constable will come and do a set-out, or physically evict the tenants. Prior to the set-out, the Constable places a large bright colored sticker on the door notifying the occupants that they have 24 hours before the Constable comes and forces them out.
The day of eviction arrives. Tenants are still in the property. They begin arguing with the Constable that they never knew that they were going to be evicted. The constable disagreed as he placed the notice on the door. Their effects were removed from the house and here is where the story gets bad. Apparently during Covid-19, both developed a horrible methamphetamine habit. They painted the interior walls with black printer ink which soaks to the studs. The entire house would have to be excised to the studs to remove their “artwork”. The client was beside himself. We worked with him, the insurance company, and the police finally resolving as much of the issue as we could for him.
In summary, Sprigg Novak Law is with our clients through the good and the bad. We don’t finish until the matter is resolved and we don’t leave our clients hanging through difficult circumstances. This was quite an unusual situation in that two good tenants wound up as drug abusers. This matter also illustrates another service that Sprigg-Novak Law firm offers, we help you determine, should you require, if we believe a tenant could be a potential liability before you rent to them. This service allows our clients to benefit from our decades of experience and save them from potential headaches like this one—protecting our client’s interests before the issue occurs.
Landlord Tenant Matter with Threatening Tenant
We received a client who had found us on our Justia profile and was having difficulty with a tenant sending him threatening messages when our client was demanding that the tenant become current on the rent. The tenant did not speak English as his first language, was not from the US culture, and was quite afraid of the vehemence that this tenant was exhibiting towards him.
We drafted the documents to have the tenant evicted including the Notice to Vacate and the Petition. After we filed the Petition, Attorney Novak received a call from the tenant, who decided that his foul language and bad demeanor would somehow dissuade Sprigg-Novak Law from protecting our client’s interest and getting this tenant out of possession of the property.
After a 5-minute tirade the tenant was reminded that it was Sprigg-Novak Law, not the tenant would be asking the questions in front of the Judge, and if he was so tough, we could settle the matter in the Courtroom. After another explosive tirade with insults against the client and Mr. Novak, the tenant hung up. At the hearing. No tenant. He skedaddled a couple of days before. He did not want to have a contest with Sprigg-Novak Law and a judgment was rendered against him both for possession and the monies owed.
Sprigg-Novak law are experienced litigators with decades of opposing party handling skills. No tenant is above the law, and no client of ours is going to be abused without the consequences of the law. We are the attorneys to turn to when it seems that your tenant is putting up more than a protest, they want a fight.
Real Estate Litigation Case Study – Alleged Defects of Home Sold by Client
We received a request from clients who were real estate investors that were being sued by the purchaser of a home they had “flipped.” The home had been purchased at a post-foreclosure auction by the clients. Six weeks after the purchase and rehabilitation by our clients, the property was then sold. The purchaser was the substitute trustee who sold the property to the clients at the foreclosure auction. Approximately nine months later, the purchaser sued our clients claiming fraud by non-disclosure and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for alleged defects in the pool and elsewhere in the home.
After reviewing the facts of the case, including the timeline of events, sales contract and inspections conducted prior to the sale, we filed a detailed answer. We then served discovery on the purchaser provide the necessary documentation for a Motion for Summary Judgment based on the facts and prevailing case law.
When the motion was filed, it was so complete and devastating to the purchaser’s case that her attorneys dismissed the case rather then risk an unfavorable judgment. Following this dismissal, we moved for a determination that we had in fact won the case and therefore should be awarded attorneys’ fees. The Court agreed and awarded attorneys’ fees to our clients. The purchaser appealed the ruling but it was upheld by the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals at Dallas.
This case demonstrates both the firm’s familiarity with the binding case law in such situations as well as our ability to obtain a quick resolution where possible. Moreover, it proves our ability to defend the results of our hard work before the Court of Appeals and beyond if necessary.
Landlord Tenant Case
Clients contacted us looking to replace counsel they had terminated based on various problems. They were being sued for alleged retaliation after attempting to evict very difficult tenants in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The tenants had filed retaliation claim that was severed from the eviction case, as well as a separate matter that was being handled for our clients by a firm hired by their insurance carrier.
At the trial on the retaliation claim, it became apparent that, aside from the fact that no retaliation had occurred under the law, the similarity of the facts and parties warranted the case being consolidated with the other pending lawsuit. After arguing for consolidation, the Court and the tenant’s attorney agreed for consolidation.
Following consolidation, our clients were advised by the attorneys obtained by their insurance carrier that the retaliation claim would need to be handled by other counsel.
We were again asked to step in and assist. Working with the carrier-appointed attorneys, we crafted a two-pronged strategy to knock out the tenant’s claims. The tenant, whose attorneys withdrew from representation, began to file a series of frivolous and misguided motions, most directed at our office. We dispatched each motion with minimal effort before delivering a devastating motion for summary judgment in conjunction with co-counsel. The result was a favorable judgment for our clients in excess of $60,000.00 and a take-nothing judgment for the tenant.
From the review left by the client on avvo.com: “Mr. Jeffrey Sprigg is a God-sent attorney for us !! I am a LANDLORD. My wife and I are eternally grateful to Mr. Sprigg for his guidance, and the manner he represented us in a trial in the County Court. Our tenant was harassing us for a long time, and he sued us with his bogus claim, for no fault of ours. We were so worried that we would lose to this person, and he would find loopholes to delay vacating our house, but Mr. Sprigg came as our savior. He is so knowledgeable and confident that every time he stood up and talked, we could see the opposing attorneys were extremely nervous. The presiding judge was giving his gracious nods of concurrence to Mr. Sprigg, and he lead us to victory ! He forced our tenant to vacate without them causing any damage to our house. THANK YOU MR. SPRIGG. GOD BLESS YOU!!”
This case demonstrates the firm’s ability to step into difficult situations, think “on our feet” and obtain outstanding outcomes for our clients through knowledge of the law, research and strong advocacy skills.
Following media coverage of a pair of tenants we evicted for non-payment of rent who turned out to have an extensive history of fraud, we were retained by the tenants’ new landlord. The tenants, who would become notorious in both Texas and Colorado as “serial squatters,” had moved into another home in the same neighborhood only weeks after the first eviction.
We served a notice to vacate as required and then a new eviction suit. Following a favorable judgment, the tenants filed a “pauper’s affidavit” seeking to appeal without having to post a sizable appeal bond. However, because the tenants had provided both our prior clients and the current clients financial records indicating that they made in excess of $180,000.00 per year, the Court denied the “pauper’s affidavit.” At the hearing, the local news crew that had been reporting on the “serial squatters” chased the one tenant who appeared for the hearing out of the Courthouse.
A week later, our office received yet another call from another landlord in the same neighborhood who had unwittingly leased to the same “serial squatters.” Once again, we took the case and served the notice to vacate prior to filing suit. This time, when trial was called, the tenants, having already lost twice to our office in the previous five weeks, did not bother to appear. Once again, the local news crew was on hand for the trial. The tenants then fled to Colorado and were later arrested.
This case demonstrates the firm’s ability to obtain consistent results in the face of “professional tenants” that in some cases know the law as well, if not better, than the presiding judge in Justice Court.
Landlord Tenant Case
A new client contacted our office looking to replace their long-time attorney that had chosen to retire. The client owned an apartment complex in Dallas and had been sued by a tenant for alleged injuries caused by water that had collected on a tile floor. According to the tenant’s lawsuit, water was leaking from a gauge on a wall but did not specify that the leak had occurred inside of his apartment. Based on past experience with other personal injury cases in apartment complexes, we knew that we would likely be able to help.
After confirming the state of the law concerning “slip-and-falls” in leased premises, we filed a detailed answer and asserted affirmative defenses. We also served required responses to initial discovery mandated by the rules in the hopes that this would place the tenant’s personal injury attorneys, who may not have been as versed on premises liability in the context of a leased property, on notice and they would dismiss the case.
When the tenant’s attorneys did dismiss the case, we proceeded with filing a very simple version of a summary judgment motion. The idea was to, if possible, end the case early and, if not, illuminate the key areas of contention so that they could be addressed either in discovery and a more detailed and traditional form of the motion. Although the tenant’s attorneys filed a response, they overlooked the key aspects of the binding case law. The motion was granted and the case was over less than four months after it was filed.
The case demonstrates both the firm’s depth of knowledge in the areas of law relevant to landlords but also our ability to deliver maximum results as efficiently as possible.
Referred to our office by another attorney, a new client asked for help in evicting their tenant following the end of his lease and after he had moved his girlfriend into the property without authorization. The tenant had counsel and had attempted to justify the girlfriend’s presence on the basis of severe medical issues. The client, who had been thorough enough to review her obligations under the lease, had set up the case nicely by providing correct notices to her tenant.
We first served the tenant with the required notice to vacate. His attorney, who was not a landlord-tenant attorney, sent an email to our office attempting to intimidate us from proceeding with eviction. Unwittingly, the attorney had not only confirmed the receipt of our notice but also demonstrated his unfamiliarity with the rules governing eviction suits.
Landlord-tenant law is not as simple as some people would like to believe. When the tenant refused to move despite the notice, we filed suit. After working closely with our client, who provided not only the typical documentation but proof that the unauthorized tenant was faking her alleged health issues, we obtained a judgment. When the tenant appealed, we again were ready and this preparation paid off with a settlement that met all of our client’s needs.
This case demonstrates that not all evictions are the same, general practitioners without experience in these matters can get their clients into more trouble than they help, and successful resolution does not always have to end with a constable enforcing a writ of possession.
Landlord Tenant Case
Our clients reached out to us with a very difficult situation involving their homeowners’ association. Unknown to them, the HOA had enacted a new restriction which precluded them from leasing to their tenant based on his unfortunate criminal history. Our clients, who had the best of intentions in trying to help the tenant move on from his past, were nevertheless stuck between their tenant and the HOA’s attorneys threatening to evict the tenant on their behalf and assess our clients with thousands of dollars in fines. It was the proverbial “no win” situation.
After advising our clients of the consequences for all courses of action available, we proceeded with protecting their rights and limiting their liability. Relying on our partners’ experience in other areas of the law, we reached out to the HOA attorneys and advised that we would handle the eviction if they would refrain from taking further action against, and on behalf of, our clients. We then served the required notice to the tenant to get the process started. When the tenant obtained an attorney from another part of the state who attempted to intimidate us, we demonstrated our expertise and resolve in a professional manner by providing statutory authority to the attorney. We then filed suit against the tenant.
The case was set for trial and, based on our experience, we also looked for alternative solutions that would get the results needed for our client while, within our ethical boundaries, allowing the tenant an “escape hatch.” We did this because we know that a tenant with an eviction on their record has a hard time finding a new place to live; a tenant with a criminal history and eviction on their records has a nearly-impossible time finding a new place to live. With the blessing of our clients, we offered a solution that would allow the tenant time to find a new place before trial and, if that happened, dismiss the eviction suit to avoid having it go on his record. His attorney reviewed the proposed solution and told him it was a good deal. Sadly, the tenant disagreed and terminated his attorney.
We tried valiantly to help the tenant understand that we were not trying to trick him, that we were trying to facilitate our clients’ wishes to avoid further harm to him. These efforts failed and we were forced to go to trial. At trial, we explained to the Court what happened. Because the judge knew us from prior cases in the county over the past 16 years, he respected our approach to the case. The judge praised our efforts in open court for having “gone above and beyond” to resolve the case. He then granted judgment in our clients’ favor.
This case demonstrates our firm’s ability to handle very difficult situations in a compassionate manner that takes into account not only the best interests of our clients but, when possible, the best interests of the other side, as well.